August 16, 2012
Journal Sentinel Online
Staff Reporter

Dubbed America’s largest generation, the baby boomers of the U.S. – anyone aged 48 years old to 66 years old – make up a significant chunk of the nation’s population. The Pew Research Center estimates that, by 2030, nearly one out of every five Americans will be baby boomers. That means a lot of baby boomers on the road.

An auto insurance comparison will show that older drivers, which baby boomers will eventually become, face higher prices. Imagine that over a lifetime, auto insurance prices are an upside-down bell curve: the cost of coverage begins high as a teen, dips for a several decades, then returns to higher levels as the driver reaches senior years.

The oldest drivers trail only the youngest drivers in the rate of fatal crashes, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III), mainly due to their higher susceptibility to injury.

Insurers want to cover themselves against the risk of crashes and severe collision-related injuries, both of which are likelier during teen and elderly years. But there are ways baby boomers can brush up on their driving skills to prevent the incidents that inflate the price of their coverage.

Check your car
There are several car features that make the vehicle safe, and each of those is crucial in crash situations. For older drivers, the reliability of those safety features is even more important, so make sure your restraints, airbags and headlights are functioning at their best.

Re-read your medications
With an increased likelihood of being on medications, baby boomers should touch base with their doctor and/or pharmacist to familiarize themselves with their side effects. Some drugs produce too much drowsiness to be behind the wheel, while others are dangerous when mixed with other medications.

Eye care is crucial
Eyesight deteriorates with age, so taking care of how you see is vital to how well you drive.

The American Optometric Association (AOA) says people who are 40 years old will likely develop changes to their vision and suggests “comprehensive” eye exams every two years.

There are also computer software programs, like DriveSharp offered by Posit Science, that test a motorist’s vision. According to the program’s manufacturer, DriveSharp tests a driver’s “useful field of view” and how they visually process the road in front of them.

Brush up on your driving skills
There are also full-fledged programs that help drivers brush up on their skills behind the wheel. The popular Driver Safety Course is available from the American Association of Retired Peoples (AARP).

A bonus about completing that course, or other similar courses, is a discount on coverage.

The AARP also offers an online quiz testing motorists’ skills and whether or not they are “smart drivers.” Older motorists should recheck their own skills with the test.